Hamburg ~ Regional Food

map of Germany showing Hamburg

"When is a hamburger a Hamburger?"

"When it's a hamburger made in Hamburg!"

The history of the hamburger (that common meat patty between two halves of a bun) is so difficult to establish. Just googling it will show you how contentious the argument is.

Does this popular American food really comes from Germany or not? The recorded history of goes back to Genghis Khan in the 12 century. Traditionalist will say that the original meat patty was first introduced at the end of the 19th century by a snack seller in Ohio who ran out of sausages to put in the bun.

It really doesn't matter to the Hamburgers (people from Hamburg), because their main cuisine is seafood. After all, the city is situated on Elbe River, which runs into the North Sea. It's is connected to the Baltic Sea by canal, has a lake in its center, and has more canals than Venice with over 2,000 bridges.

As well, it is an international harbor which has brought spices and foreign foods to this part of Germany for hundreds of years. This has greatly influenced the traditional foods available.

Hamburg's Favorite Foods

  • Aalsuppe (eel soup) originally meaning "all soup" made of everything except the kitchen sink. Eel was not part of it. However, because it sounded like "eelsoup" (Aolsuppe) in German, eel is often added, especially in restaurants, so that people won't complain that there's no eel in the "eelsoup".
  • Lobster (Hummer), red abalone (Meerohr), vongole clam (Muschel), shrimp (Krabben), caviar (Kaviar), oysters (Auster).
  • Dumplings (Klösschen) and croquettes (kroketten), especially with smoked meat, lobsters, or shrimps.
  • Fish, such as plaice (Scholle), smelts (Stint) and cured herring (Matjes).
  • Birnen, Bohnen und Speck (green beans cooked with pears and bacon) a type of stew.
  • Labskaus (Seaman's hash) mixture of corned beef and mashed potatoes.
  • Desserts such as butter shortcake (Buttermürbeteig), macaroons (Makronen), truffles (Trüffel), rice milk pudding with pears (Quetschmadam)

My Very Favorite Recipe from Hamburg


This is the recipe I grew up with. My Mutti made this frequently for lunch and I carry on that tradition. I usually use leftover potatoes, but starting with raw ones works as well! You'll find the recipe for this dish as well as several variations right here. 

More Recipes from Hamburg ...

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